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My Ifeanyi

My Ifeanyi

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Published by: Nwakudu Ifeanyi Samuel on Jun 01, 2010
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07/24/2012

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Agriculture forms the most dominant economic activity in the Niger-Delta. Federal

Office of Statistics (F.O.S) in 1985 stated that crop farming and fishing activities

account for about 90% of all forms of activities in the area. They also estimated that

about 50%-68% of the active labour force is engaged in one form of agricultural

activity or the other including fishing and farming. Agricultural technology has

34

remained relatively unchanged over the years and over 90% of farmers are subsistent

farmers operating on traditional methods using basic tools. Azibolomari 1998, P.67

stated that-

“…….farming technique in the Niger-Delta has still

remained the use of land rotation of bush fallow -

system characterized by land and labour being the

principal unit of production.”

The organic farming techniques widely used in the Niger-Delta is highly susceptible

to environmental changes affecting the soil, water and or deforestation because it is

not technologically inspired, but rather land and labour intensive. Oil extraction and

production has led to adverse environmental impact on the soil, forest and water of

the Niger-Delta communities. This has ultimately affected peasant agriculture in a

variety of ways, which ultimately have caused problems of environmental refugees.

Some of the landless farmers migrate to other more fertile lands in other rural

communities, putting pressure on scarce fertile lands. While some of the displaced

farmers out-migrate to the urban areas in search of livelihood.

Various harmful and toxic organic compounds when introduced into the natural

environment during oil extraction such as during seismic work, oil spill, gas flares

and several other forms pollution, changes the geo-chemical composition of the soil,

rivers and other components of the environment. This in turn affects agriculture and

lead to a drastic decline in output in both fishing and farming activities. Stanley 1990,

35

P.67-79 noted that-

“……7.7% of the 797 people interviewed on the socio-economic

impact of oil in Nigeria identified farmland pollution as a major

problem.”

The peasants are very reactive to these changes because of the unavailability of

modern farming and fishing techniques to meet the challenges of a declining soil and

marine resources. The drastic fall in output of the agricultural product, led to

intensive exploitation of other fertile land. This long run effect of this is land

degradation and immigration to other rural areas, where pressures is exerted on the

often inadequate and dilapidated infrastructure, leading to increase poverty.

In addition, Ikporukpo 1981, P.23-26 stated that “most farmers are concerned with

problems of displacement without resettlement during oil spills”. Gbadegesin 1997, P.9 further

noted that

“Apart from loss of farms, oil spills have led to extensive deforestation

With no adequate replanting practices…….this in effect has shortened

Fallow periods, compounded land use degradation and led to a loss of

Soil fertility and consequently erosion of top soil.”

Elliot 1998, P.82 stated that-

“The slash and burn agriculture traditionally practiced by shifting

cultivators-up to 10% of world’s population is based on ecologically

36

sound principles. It minimizes threats to the forest by leaving land

fallow over a period of time long enough for regeneration…….landless

peasants whom have been forced from their own land, increases the number of

people pursuing such a subsistence lifestyle, this contributes to de-

forestation through further encroachment on forest lands and reduction

in fallow times.”

The out-migration of the rural displaced farmers in the Niger-Delta as a result of

environmental degradation caused by oil extraction in the region has led to a

significant percentage of the local inhabitants to remain in cyclical poverty and

penury. This has meant a greater environmental degradation as a result of the

intensive exploitation of the few remaining fertile lands in the region by the residents.

It has also led to increasing urban blight in the urban areas in the Niger-Delta as more

displaced rural inhabitant flood the urban areas in search of non-existent jobs.

2.6 ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL IMPLICATION OF INTENSIVE
RESOURCE EXPLOITATION IN THE NIGER-DELTA

In this section, this paper will look more specifically at various environmental and

socio-economic problems that have been identified as a result of the intensive

extraction of natural oil resources in the Niger-Delta.

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